Ideal pickup height

Discussion in 'Tonefreaks' started by Skiroy, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. fuelie

    fuelie Senior Member

    Messages:
    759
    Likes Received:
    768
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2011
    You think kind of like me. I separate guitar tone into 3 different aspects.

    Attack - bloom of note - decay or commonly accepted as sustain

    I also tend to look at things a bit more like Tesla did outside of his electricity experiments.

    In regards to a pickup it is all about the string reacting within the field but everything has acoustic properties based on reflection and absorption. These properties directly effect sustain or decay of a note and frequencies enhanced or manipulated by certain woods.

    He viewed the world as a place of acoustic resonance and I firmly agree. Granted a guitar string is going to produce a certain tone it's the end result in a very dense trade off of material traits the string is attached to. Technically more of an energy and heat trade of once broken down to atomic levels but that's a little too far for the scope of this thread.
     
  2. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

    Messages:
    11,668
    Likes Received:
    9,380
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2009
    It depends on the pups. Some players who get a guitar with high output pups may want to lower them -- and vice versa. And then there is the matter of the magnetic output of the pups. Getting pups with high magnetic output too close to the strings (or even their pole screws) can decrease sustain when played clean and increase it on a high gain amp setting.

    The only thing I can say for sure is that raising the pup (or screw) height will increase strength of the attack. What it does after that depends on the type of pup.
     
  3. Sonex Reducer

    Sonex Reducer Senior Member

    Messages:
    388
    Likes Received:
    124
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2012
    amen! my neck pups are usually flush with the ring and even below the ring on the treble side due to my string height. my bridge is usually maybe 1/32? pretty darn high.

    then again, i'm always hitting my strings (pure nickel, not real loud) on the neck pickup so the bridge doesn't sound too crazy.

    oh, and i turn my pickup screw down low on the g string. i think my b string sticks out this way a bit and it sounds rad.
     
  4. DPaulCustom

    DPaulCustom Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,219
    Likes Received:
    1,383
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
  5. mechtech

    mechtech Senior Member

    Messages:
    481
    Likes Received:
    176
    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2012
    Closer gets more overdrive and volume. It is more of the pickup's sound.
    Further away gets more cleaner sustain, and more guitar body sound.
    Not totally, but in those directions.
    With each string fretted at the last fret, from 3/64" to 5/64" is the range most use. And often angled, so the trebles are closer.
    Screw height?
    It will brighten a pickup to raise them. This gets rid of muddiness to some degree.
    It makes a humbucker more like a single coil, as it 'sees' more of only one side of the pickup. Once again, it is in that direction, and YMMV.
    How to set pickup screws?
    Because of the differences in wound and unwound strings, don't simply set the radius to the string or fretboard radius. This gives uneven output [but it looks good!].
    Set the low E screw head just above the pickup cover, raise the A a turn or so from that base position, and the D about two turns from that base setting. Have the G 1/2 to 1 turn up, the B a little below flush, and the high E one turn up.
    This is very close.
    You check it by setting your effects OFF. Tone controls on 7.
    Pluck each string lightly at the 3rd fret, then hammer on 2 frets up. Do this at the 5th, 7th, 9th, etc.
    You can easily see which one needs final tweaking.

    Of course, if even string volume is not what you want, please disregard this.
     
  6. Classicplayer

    Classicplayer Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,939
    Likes Received:
    802
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    I can't begin to log the amount of time that I've spent just tweaking pickup heights and pole piece screw adjustments. I have three humbucker type guitars. I usually dial them in to my 1-watt Blackstar on it's gain channel. I've found that it's a compromise getting them set so that my neck pickup is fairly clear (no mud) and my bridge pickup height set so that I can go from a "clean" sound at two on the volume control and distorted at five. I'm from the school of controling everything from the guitar.....just guitar, chord, and amp mostly.

    I also test string to string volume so that any two strings played together are equal in volume. I don't have any one string louder than any other string, save for just a tiny emphasis in favor of the 6th string. I do it this way as these days I'm usually in practice mode at home and no bass player present. It might sound rather unusual, but it gives me that "full" sound; not unlike what you might expect from a good mature sounding acoustic guitar.

    Classicplayer
     
  7. AMB

    AMB Junior Member

    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    would adjusting the screws on the actual pickup help?
     
  8. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

    Messages:
    11,668
    Likes Received:
    9,380
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2009
    AMB:

    Yes, but not as much as adjusting the pup height, to my experience. And so much of this depends upon your amp and the tone you are going for. I just got a new amp head two months ago (first one on my sig). I wanted the elusive clean overdrive. I got it, but had to adjust the pup screw height AND the pup height on some of my guitars to maximize it.
     
  9. Classicplayer

    Classicplayer Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,939
    Likes Received:
    802
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    It could help some folks who after adjusting the pickup height, are still not sure that they have their ideal tone. I found that I've adjusted almost all pole piece screws on neck and bridge pickups. I raise or lower those screws until I can sort of hear the note "chirp" which is my definition of the so called "sweet spot". The end results being that no one string is louder or softer than another string. It may take time to come up with this, but the effort is worth it to me.

    If you happen to get hold of an expertly made acoustic, give a listen as you strum the strings when playing chords. You can almost hear each individual string within the chord. To me that is the mark of an excellent acoustic guitar and what I strive for when I listen to my Les Paul.

    Classicplayer
     
  10. twinrider1

    twinrider1 Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,079
    Likes Received:
    1,351
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2007
    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG1MSZIysPQ]Gibson Guitar Tutorial: Joe Walsh - Guitar Setup (Part 5 of 6) - YouTube[/ame]

    The whole series is a fun listen. This part touches on pickups.
     
    1 person likes this.
  11. Derek Duncan

    Derek Duncan Member

    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    42
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2013
    Like everyone else has said, I'd say get the bridge pickup 1/8" away with the stings pressed near the last fret, and adjust closer to taste. Once you've nailed that, adjust the neck so you don't have a huge drop or gain in output when switching pickup positions.
     
  12. Sustainamaniac

    Sustainamaniac Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,791
    Likes Received:
    6,169
    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2013
    I leave my neck pickup slightly above the pickup ring so it doesn't get muddy and the bridge pickup a little below the recommended 1/8". I'm not actually 100% sure where the bridge is set because I just keep a screwdriver on top of the amp when I play and adjust according to how it sounds to my ears at the given moment. I've been lowering the pups a decent bit recently because it makes the sound more refined and less punchy. It works for me.
     
  13. Dr. Pain

    Dr. Pain Senior Member

    Messages:
    902
    Likes Received:
    692
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2012
    I have a piece of paper with two lines ruled on it. One is 4 millimetres and the other is 2 mm. Set the pick up 4 mm on the low and 2 mm on the high, then play it and adjust from there if needed.
     
  14. John Ucol

    John Ucol Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,578
    Likes Received:
    1,410
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2008

    I put the pickups so high that they choke out the notes from the ringing strings! :slash::slash::slash:
     

Share This Page